Home Decor

No Nightstand, No Problem—Here are 5 Better Alternatives

Non-traditional is the name of the game.

August  9, 2021
Photo by Julia Gartland

It’s no secret that furnishing an entire apartment is daunting and involves extensive decision making—and while it may be tempting to load up your shopping cart at a mass market retailer and call it a day, don’t settle! With a bit of creativity, you can make your space look totally one of a kind. How, exactly? Opting for a bedside table that’s a bit off the beaten path is a great place to start. In fact, you may be able to put together the perfect nightstand setup using pieces you already own—read on for our five favorite alternatives to traditional bedside tables to get started.

1. Trunks

Photo by Roxanne Kwiecinski

Trunks—whether vintage or contemporary—make for excellent bedside tables, as they’re full of storage potential and style. Keep off-season quilts and sheet sets inside, or simply use a trunk to hold extra books, magazines, or anything else that needs a proper home (we won’t judge). Have a couple of trunks that would look lovely placed together? Go ahead and stack them up, as blogger Roxanne Kwiecinski did in her space.

2. Bar Carts

I can’t get enough of vintage-looking bar carts in all rooms of the house—I’ve used such pieces in the traditional sense, of course, but I’ve also placed carts in the bathroom and bedroom, because hello, storage potential! But since bar carts generally don’t have drawers, you’ll be forced to keep your setup looking nice and neat. Styling a bar cart as a nightstand is a fun way to add a little personality to your space; you can place a few favorite coffee table books on the shelves and lean artwork on top. With so many types of bar carts on the market, it will be easy to find a piece that appeals to you, no matter your price range. The key is just to opt for a piece without built-in wine racks so that it doesn’t look too out of place in your sleep space.

3. Stools

Photo by Alicia / Thrifty and Chic

Sure, nightstands with drawers are great, but oftentimes they become receptacles for clutter anyway. It’s all too easy to let papers, loose change, and receipts accumulate inside a nightstand, but these items don’t exactly scream “time to unwind.” So why not prevent this buildup by going super minimal and using a stool as a nightstand? Whether you grab an extra bar stool from another room in the house, pick up an unfinished wooden piece and paint it in the color of your choosing, or opt for something nice and fancy, you can’t go wrong. With a bit of paint and some rope, blogger Alicia of Thrifty and Chic turned a $16 craft store stool into a sophisticated looking nightstand.

4. Vanities

Maybe your bedroom doesn't feel complete without a vanity, but if you’re living in a small space, it may make sense to style this piece of furniture so that it can do double duty as a nightstand. I’ve found that simply adding a table lamp, jewelry tray, and a leaning piece of art will do the trick. Just don’t go overboard with accessories so that the vanity’s surface remains functional—stash everyday makeup in a cute storage bin or cosmetic bag so that you aren’t staring at your mascara and eyeliner as you doze off each evening.

5. Suitcases

Photo by Reeves /The Weathered Door

Showcase your love of travel by turning a vintage suitcase into a beautiful nightstand, as blogger Reeves of The Weathered Door did. Reeves repurposed legs from a yard sale furniture find and thus only spent $12 constructing this one of a kind piece.

What non-traditional items have you used as a nightstand? Tell us below!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • FrugalCat
  • Susan Druva
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Sarah Lyon

Written by: Sarah Lyon

Freelance writer and interior design enthusiast


FrugalCat August 12, 2021
I used to have my old dorm fridge as a nightstand. It was so convenient to have chilled water, splits of sparkling wine, and bottled iced coffees right in the bedroom.
Susan D. August 10, 2021
I looked at articles about small bathroom rennovation
My house was built in 1932
Size closets (if they existed )
and bathrooms not a priority

Your rennovation per small bathroom looks like you could have a (dance ) in it
Please tell me how you would actually update rennovate a very small bathroom

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